Guruji: “Struggle is never-ending. I think if the struggle in life went away, we would die of boredom! Only when you relax for a moment after the struggle is over, you feel real happiness. Then new struggle begins, with new challenges. When that finishes, you feel happy again. But the feeling becomes grander and grander with each challenge.

“If you sit around doing nothing, without any struggle, then there’s nothing else but boredom. The more opposition you face, the more positive, extra-ordinary development of your personality happens. If there are two men, one who has struggled and one who hasn’t, the one who has struggled would be more knowledgeable. And to rise or to develop, you do have to struggle.”

Q: “Milarepa’s story is so inspiring! And it’s not like he had signs from his childhood that he’s going to be a great soul.”

Guruji: “His story is very inspiring. The biggest thing is the feeling of revenge that was borne in him. That feeling gave him so much strength that not only he took revenge upon his enemies, but also used the same strength to gain knowledge and self-realization. A weak person can’t even exact revenge. They say things like ‘whatever god wants will happen’ to excuse themselves. He at least took proper revenge. And when he felt guilty about killing so many innocent people, the power that he had developed to take the revenge, he was able to use it positively. That’s why he is a legendary figure today. The feeling of revenge gives a lot of energy.”

Q: “Really?”

Guruji: “Of course! Take Ravana out of Rama’s life, what will be left? Or take Kansa out of Krishna’s life, Krishna won’t be Krishna anymore. These are the highlights of their lives. This means that the feeling of revenge is what brings meaning in life (laughs).

“Main point is that opposition should be there. Without any opposition, how will you be refined? How will you prove that I can face any kind of opposition and come out a winner? Even in bodybuilding, the training principle is called Progressive Resistance. Only by increasing resistance you develop further. So is with life.

“Now even local people (in Govardhan) have started taking notice of me. They have always been taking notice, but now finally it’s going in positive direction. Some news reporters had come, they gave us good coverage in local newspapers, about rudraksha and kalpa-vraksha trees in the campus. People are totally stunned reading about it. Last Monday they even published about Shiva-linga.”

Q: “Aren’t people resistant to change?”

Guruji: “In the beginning everybody is resistant to change. If you tell them a new thing, the first response is always, ‘No, how can that be possible?’. It’s the same situation world over.

“That’s when I thought it was futile to explain. There were a lot of quarrels with the local people in the beginning, so I stopped talking to them. Now these days they are very anxious that I talk to them, let them inside the academy campus. I don’t pay any heed to them.

“All in all it has only benefited me. All these difficulties have developed one aspect of my personality which probably would never have developed. If somebody is coming to fight you, you could only do two things: come out to face them or bow down before them and run away. And if you bow down, you’d never be able to face yourself in a mirror again, if you have even a little bit of self-respect. I took a stand and challenged them to do whatever they could.

“Once about 60-70 people came to fight. I was by myself and with didi [Guruji’s sister, Mataji]. We both faced them, and they all ran away ultimately. That boosted our confidence significantly.”

Q: “What did they want?”

Guruji: “One thing was that when I came here, they got jealous that I bought such a big place and they couldn’t. And then I stopped their ‘free for fall’ (using campus grounds for ‘morning rituals’). So they picked a petty excuse and came to fight. My servants and the watchmen all ran away, only didi and I were left behind. And the furious face and anger that I must have developed – only they saw it, I can only imagine – all of them got scared and ran away.”

Q: “Did you get very angry?”

Guruji: “Very angry. I was ready to do anything. If someone keeps irritating you for no reason, then ultimately you can’t control the anger. Though one should have tremendous amount of self-control. If you have extraordinary physical strength, much more than average, that you can lift a man with one hand, and you lose control in the middle of a mob, only the mob will be on the losing end. The consequences may be serious. And here an average man is pretty pathetic, no more than 50-60kgs.

“These kinds of confrontations kept on going. Now we haven’t had one in a few years. Whoever came to openly fight me, they all died mysteriously. And this also created a different type of reputation. If our count is correct, so far 46 man have died in the last 9 years. It’s been very peaceful since then. I didn’t understand in the beginning what was happening. When I understood, I withdrew myself. Stayed inside and didn’t engage in fight with them.

“The main point is if you have to do a big task, a proportionally strong opposition also comes. If you are able to face it, things get progressively smother.”

Q: “Does somebody keep testing whether you can take this opposition or not?”

Guruji: “Think of it this way: I was introduced as an antibiotic drug here. An infection was spreading on a certain portion of Mother Earth, and I was introduced as with anti-bacterial properties to eliminate the infection. Struggle was inevitable. And what are we in the eyes of Mother Earth, nothing more than virus or bacterias.

“We can see the difference in 9 years. The entire area has changed. Goverdhan Parikrama has gone beyond everybody’s wildest dreams! This Guru Purnima, more than 10 million people crossed in 24 hours. Management was very good. After that, suddenly a very eerie silence has spread everywhere. No noise of quarrels, loud speakers, etc. Also, government is taking over management of temples so all the pandas [rowdy caretakers of Hindu temples] are in shock – their source of income is gone. Things are getting better.

“It has been a remarkable series of changes. Government’s attention is now finally here. Electricity used to be out for 5 days, which is almost inconceivable in the western society. Now government has ordered 24-hour electric supply, especially in Goverdhan. Tourist department gave a proposal for 66 million rupees for facelift of our campus. They’ll do the lighting, full repair, and water supply. We’ll only have to pay the bill. Agreement is between myself – the owner of the property – and the governor of UP, that archeological department will look after this property. It is the first time ever in India an agreement like this has been made between a private property owner, archeological department, and the state government.

“It took a very long time and a lot of effort, but things are looking better. We had come in absolute opposition – no friendly person around at all! Nothing beyond thorny bushes and cactus.

Q: “You have set a big example.”

Guruji: “I haven’t set this example for anyone else. It’s ultimately for my own development. The place started looking better, status increased. All my disciples got inspired, their confidence increased. Because what I have done I have taught everyone. No more, no less. Anybody can do anything. The basic thing is that the man should be prepared. There’s an English saying: Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. You have to prepare yourself. And with proper preparation, the team that forms will be of specialists. And ultimately team only performs.”

[20100711-2] Recorded: Oct 2002

Lift his students above, both spiritually and physically!

Q: Sometimes I don’t feel like doing any exercise. Is it because of lack of energy on those days?

A: “Not necessarily, but sometimes over-exertion and over-training also tires the body. You should take rest. Doing this work-out 3 to 4 times a week should be enough for you. Our aim is to stay in shape. We are not body-builders.

“Body-building is totally different these days. Earlier, there were no anabolic drugs. People used to work out for health and strength. Over-muscularity wasn’t much sought after. Look at some old body-builders – Steve Reeves for example. He was one of the most handsome body-builder in this history of build-building. He played the role of Hercules; you should watch the movie series (Hercules) if you get a chance – there are about 5-6 of them. Now compare him to the body-builders today sticking their frog-like muscles out! The beauty of body-building is lost in the monstrosity that it is today. I haven’t seen a more shapely body-builder than Steve Reeves. Although in muscularity he doesn’t compare to the body-builders today, but his shape was extraordinary. And I think was much better looking than, for example, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He looked like a real hero, like a Greek god, and in comparison, the modern body-builders look like monster! Same with the other first few body-builders. Jon Gremek, who progressed a lot in Bob Hoffman’s training, was as strong as he was good looking. And he never took any drugs in his life. He used to be able to squat with 400 pounds, even in his 60s! I’m not sure if he’s still alive or not. Joe Weider has totally destroyed body-building by creating an industry around it.

“In the old days, there used to be 2 title – “Mr America” and “The Most Muscular Man”. Most Muscular is now Mr America, and the original Mr. America is now gone. Health, strength, and shape used to be the measures before. I just saw the photographs of Ronnie Coleman, Mr. Olympia. If he stood next to you, you’d be petrified! Looks like a monster. I don’t know what Weider has done to this sport. Earlier, there was no money involved. Now, without chemicals it is not even possible to compete with these kind of muscles. You should do the comparison with old body-builders – Steve Reeves, Jon Grimek, Bill Pearl. Bill Pearl was the first red indian to win a world championship. These are legendary names in body building. Look for some old photographs of Jon Grimek. I have read his life as well. He used to do a pose called “flag post” – holding his body horizontal like a flag with both his hands. Imagine how much strength it’d take to do that. I’ve never seen anyone else ever been able to do it.

“There were some good body-building magazines in early days. They’ve stopped now that Joe Weider has taken over everything. There was an Amateur Athletic Union, AAU, founded by Bob Hoffman. Bob Hoffman was known as the father of American weight lifting, he also coached the Olympics team I think. He was a very strong man himself. He started the magazine “Health and Strength”, and Jon Grimek ran “Muscular Development”. If you can get old of some issues, definitely read them. Today’s body-building is not possible for an average man. Also, the workouts published in the magazines today are misleading. They are work-outs for professional, and are being popularized in general public so beginners have a lot of difficulty in deciding what to do. I have tried Bob Hoffman’s workouts and have seen tremendous benefits, especially that 3 times a week one. It is one of the finest workouts I’ve found so far. ”

“[…] I did this work-out in college days and I can still feel it’s effects. It developed a permanent V shape and tremendous strength. I was able to do full squats with 400 pounds, bench-press with 300 pounds, and shoulder presses 180 pounds! I used to arm-wrestle with everybody in college and beat them. All machines fail in front of this work-out. The only equipment that comes any close is BullWorker X5. Two legendary body-builders used to do this workout – Casie Jaffer(?) and Mike Manger(?) – they introduced the heavy-duty principle. Other workouts are only for conditioning but this one is for strength. And strength really gives a high feeling – it’s an intoxication in itself. Then you also learn you body’s limits. You will only know that by exerting yourself.

“Today the body-building is all about chemicals. A body-builder came from Gwalior and brought me some protein powder – these Weider-style products are available even here these days!. The product claimed you’d gain muscle mass and also develop cuts. I tried for 3 days, understood the principle and stopped using it. It had some chemicals which would make you very thirsty. You’ll drink water and feel like urinating all the time. It’d drain all the water out of the body so it’d feel like you are getting thinner and the cuts are showing up. Work out, drink water, and urinate all day – that’s the way you’d get cuts. It has bad long-term effects on health.”

“[..] Muscle tissues break during exercise that’s why you feel pain. When you rest, they rebuild and grow in size. They grow to cope with the exertion. That’s why it is called progressive resistance training. Progressively increasing resistance – 10 pounds, 20 pounds, etc, and the muscles will respond to the increase in exertion and grow.

“Check out old archives for Bob Hoffman, Jon Grimek, Steve Reeves, etc. Watch Hercules series as well. Victor Mature had not a single cut on his body but his looks were amazing and had great strength too. I got so inspired by his movie (Samson and Delilah) that I don’t remember how many of my students I lifted up overhead with one hand!

“He did not have a body-builder look but a manly look.. used to throw man like it was nothing! The film was a classic. The movie was copied in India as well. Premnath played the role of Victor Mature (in movie ‘Aurat’). There was some Indian touch but it was the same movie, scene by scene. But the original is something else.

“There’s no answer to Victor Mature. He was not overly muscular but was very strong. Remember how he lifted that fat man in the movie? Even Arnold could not give those scenes. I was so inpsired by that scene, that Upendra Vyas, my disciple who had a similar body like that fat man weighing 107 Kg, even him I lifted overhead with one hand! That has been my heaviest lift so far. Single-handed! This happened in Gwalior cottage days. Have lifted Kashyap more than 100-150 times. He is only 55 Kgs so it was easy. Last year I lifted Ganja but not anyone after that. My mood has changed somehow, don’t feel like doing that anymore.

“The strength has supported Yoga practice as well, you can’t ignore that. Like the point that you caught – 200 in Yoni Mudra on the first day itself! If I didn’t have the physical back-up, it was next to impossible. Bullworker will also increase the capacity to hold breath, especially its advanced workouts. It is one of the qualities of Bullworker, that’s why I like it so much. I used to keep two of those, so that if one broke, I could replace it with the othe one and there wouldn’t be a break in the routine. You should aways be ready. I have broken Bullworker X5 at least 6 or 7 times. Some time ago the only shop which used to sell those closed down. After that, I’ve been repairing it myself. It is the finest workout to do with Yoga practice. It’ll drastically increase the breath retention, especially the isotonic one.

“I took Bullworker with me even when I had gone to Puri [Yukteshwar Giri’s ashram, when GurujI hadn’t found his Guru yet]. It was one of the old models. I was the only one there who was practicing Yoga and working out as well. Everyone else was very komal-anga (‘delicate limbs’). They were a bit scared of me as well. Some of them used to lecture me: “Shailendra baba, don’t exercise so much otherwise your bhava (divine emotion) will get destroyed”, or “if you exercise, you’ll remain stuck in body level only, will never reach the soul”. I stopped working out for 5-6 weeks, and started feeling down – losing confidence and energy. Then I told them all to go to hell, I’ll never quit exercising. Later when I met Guruji [Shri Satya Charan Lahiri Mahasaya], he told me “Make exercise a part of your life. You must keep doing that.” He told me exactly what appealed to my heart. He also shared the secret that only with physical fitness, the spiritual practice will reach its zenith! This is especially true with Yoga practice. And I have experienced that exactly. Everybody can. My swimming work-out had also made a lot of difference. I used to do a lot of underwater swimming and that has significantly increased
my breath retention.

“You should always physically exert yourself. Never over but within a limit.”

[About diet]

“I never maintained a special diet, whatever used to get cooked in our home. Have always been vegetarian, drank no more than 1 glass of milk everyday. The real secret is in tikkar (Indian roti) – there’s no better diet than daal and roti. “Tikkar se hi body tikti hai” (only roti sustains the body). Sometimes vitamin deficiency happens with heavy workouts, you catch cold easily when you are tired. So some vitamin B and C supplements are more than enough. ”

Q: I read in a book review that according to medical science, rib-case can’t really expand and it’s a myth that body-building expands the rib-cage?

A: “That is all dung. We exercise to go beyond the ordinary. This work-out will definitely expand the ribcage. It’ll also increase the weight, size, and strength.”

“We discussed a lot about body building today (laugh). See, we get only one body in our life, we should keep it nice. It’ll never be replaced.”

[About eve-teasing, if you see someone doing that, should you interfere, etc.]

“Only if you can beat the eve-teaser. If you can get beaten, it’s better to keep quiet (laugh). It’s only teasing in the worst case, there’s no physical assault. You should be aware of your position – there’s no point in unnecessarily acting like a hero. If you see a physical assault, make a lot of noise and start shouting for police – that’ll be enough to scare them away. The situation is not all that bad [in Indian trains]. You should learn to ignore comments like that, or tackle them with humor. Otherwise you’ll be dealing with felony all the time! (laugh)”

[About Lalu Prasad Yadav]

“Lalu is doing a good job as Railway Minister. He has put a stop to cold drinks in trains, instead they are serving lass and pede (laugh). He is also replacing plastic cups with clay cups for tea. He has also claimed he won’t increase railways fares. Instead, he has increased the penalty five times for not carrying a ticket. He has a vernacular guise but he is highly educated and is extraordinarily intelligent.

On the other hand, Atal Behari Vajpayee is frying pakodas! (laugh). He said that in an interview on TV yesterday, that “I’m spending time in kitchen”. This is funny, lost the prime minister chair and now frying pakodas. Felt like he had lost his mind in the interview. When they asked him what he does these days after finishing his PM term, he said “I make tea and pakode“. (laugh)

[20090801] Recorded: June 20th, 2004